Articles; Faculty Demographics; Inclusion and Diversity Report; Black Lives Matter; Court Case;
This issue of the Faculty Newsletter carries articles on an unusually broad range of topics:
Please note that MIT faculty are always welcome to submit a letter or article in response, or to raise other issues.
"M.I.T. Numbers in this issue shows the history of faculty growth. It is striking that the faculty has grown so little, in a period in which overall federal research funding and graduate and postdoctoral numbers have increased significantly, as well as overall administrative positions (see "M.I.T. Numbers." MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXV, No. 2). Since 1970, the student-to-faculty ratio has increased by 15%, and that omits the substantial increase in postdoctoral fellows over that period, who also require mentoring. Either an increasing number of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows are receiving reduced mentoring, or the workload of faculty is steadily increasing.
The increase in female faculty and Hispanic and African-American faculty over the past decade is encouraging, but the actual levels are still deeply disturbing. With female faculty fewer than 25% of total faculty, and Hispanic and African-American both under 4%, MIT still has a long way to go. All members of the faculty and administration need to be working harder on these fronts. Prof. Bertschinger’s report below may provide some support.
Inclusion and Diversity Report
As this issue was going to press, Ed Bertschinger, the Institute Community and Equity Officer, released his report “Advancing a Respectful and Caring Community: Learning by Doing at MIT.” The report has a cornucopia of recommendations, and we urge faculty to read it, in the interest of helping set priorities [iceoreport.mit.edu].
Black Lives Matter
The mobilization that occurred in communities across the country in response to the killings of African-Americans engaged members of the MIT community. Such racial justice activism and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations touched many and perhaps took root again in the MIT community. We should follow up on this opportunity to foster meaningful change on the campus, using the Bertschinger report, and any other initiatives available.
At the same time as the completion of the Inclusion and Diversity report, news reports were published describing MIT’s defense against a wrongful death suit brought by the family of graduate student Han Duy Nguyen, who committed suicide. MIT’s lawyers requested dismissal of the suit, claiming that Nguyen’s employment as a summer research assistant made him an Institute employee, rather than a student. The presiding judge rejected this claim, as inconsistent with MIT’s prior positions that graduate students are not employees. This effort to reduce liability through a technicality is not appropriate for MIT, which aspires to provide leadership in higher education. We understand that lawyers are employed to limit liability of the Institute, but their actions need to proceed in a fashion consistent with the principles and values of the MIT community. MIT’s Corporation and administration need to ensure that MIT’s legal tactics do not compromise the Institute’s broader educational, research, and cultural missions.
During the past six months there have been new appointees to a significant group of MIT administrative leadership positions. They include (with their prior positions):
- Chairman of the MIT Corporation: Robert Millard, MIT '73;
- Vice President for Human Resources: Lorraine Goffe-Rush (Vice-Chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis);
- Director of Libraries: Chris Bourg (Associate University Librarian for Public Services at Stanford);
- Vice President for Finance: Glen Shor (Secretary for Administration and Finance, Commonwealth of Massachusetts);
- William Kettyle: Director of MIT Medical; has announced plans to step down but remain until a new director is recruited.
In addition, three major positions have been filled within the past year:
- Provost: Martin A. Schmidt (Associate Provost);
- Chancellor: Cynthia Barnhart (Associate Dean of Engineering);
- Vice President for Research: Maria Zuber (Chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences).